Cover Image: The Judge

The Judge

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Member Reviews

Cricket followers of a certain age will remember Robin Smith aka The Judge as one of England’s best players of fast bowling during a time when there were some very fast bowlers. Readers who didn’t know this will soon learn whilst reading this book as it is stated on a regular basis.

This was overall a disappointing book as I had high hopes as Smith was definitely a star player during a poor period for English cricket. Maybe my expectations were too high?

The book does contain some interesting stories and gives an insight into the struggles Smith has faced since retirement and that part of the book was very good indeed.

Overall an average book
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An interesting biography of one of the England greats. It's also an interesting insight into the culture in cricket of the time and Robin is caught between times changing from the drinking culture perhaps. 
I was shocked that even in the 90s he wasn't allowed to attend the birth of his son, yet another player could be in pantomime! 
I did feel that the blurb etc focused on his downfall and reinvention whereas this only happens about 80% in and perhaps for family privacy reasons is quite brief. I hope this can lead to more support mental health wise in particular for those successful at a young age who seem more vulnerable to it.
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Growing up in the 1980s, Robin Smith was my favourite England cricket player.  Whenever I played, I would try to emulate his game and every time I hit the square cut - I'd think of Judgie. So it was with a mixture of anticipation and nervousness, having seen the advance reporting, that I picked up this book. And those mixed feelings and thoughts stayed with me throughout the book right to the end. Smith takes his story from childhood in wealthy South Africa, through to playing for Hampshire and England, to retirement in Perth and his post-retirement struggles. It is brutally honest and, at times, as Smith himself acknowledges, it is a troubling story.  I'm not going to review the story - it isn't the reader's place to comment on the highs and lows of individuals and, as is clear from the book, there is too much of that which went on in the press during and after his playing career.  I shall my confine my comments to the writing and editing - and this book would really from more editing. There's a lot of repetition and I do mean a lot - of stories and of phrases. And it's for that reason - not the content - why I really can't recommend this book. Even to those for whom Smith will always be a legend.
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It is easy to forget that the sportsman you watch from afar making the game seem so easy is in reality just a bloke who suffers from the same insecurities as frailties as the next person. Robin Smith is no exception. This is a tale if a young man emerging from a privileged and sheltered upbringing ginghams in apartheid South Africa developing into a world class batsman and appearing so confident at the crease but in reality he was a man riddled with issues and problems.

The book is open and honest to an extreme and sometimes Smith does not come over well but I am sure that it was a cathartic experience too and one that is always fascinating for the reader.
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